I am Professor of Cultural History in the School of English and Drama and Director of Network: QMUL Centre for Creative and Cultural Economy.
I went to a state school in Aberdeenshire. I then studied Drama and Philosophy as an undergraduate student at the University of Glasgow. After that I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to go to McGill University in Montreal to do an MA in Communications. This was a fascinating interdisciplinary programme, drawing on cultural studies, film studies, literary theory and cultural history. Finally I did my Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge. My doctoral supervisor was Raymond Williams, and my research examined some historical and theoretical questions associated with the concept of ‘popular culture’. I am a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
I was born in Scotland, but now very much enjoy living in London.
Other commitments mean that I do not currently teach within the School of English and Drama.
However, I continue to engage actively with research on teaching and learning, and to support initiatives that can have a positive impact on students’ learning. From 2005-2010 I was the Vice-Principal of Queen Mary with responsibility for Teaching and Learning, and greatly enjoyed the opportunities this role offered. I am a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
I have also been closely involved for many years in supporting a number of London primary and secondary schools as a governor.
I have served as Chair of the Governing Body of Ben Jonson Primary School, Vice-Chair of the Governing Body of Drapers’ Academy, a School in the London Borough of Havering that is co-sponsored by Queen Mary, and also as a member of the Drapers Multi-Academy Trust Board.
Since July 2017 I have been Chair of the Drapers’ Multi-Academy trust Board.
- The cultural history of modernism
- Cultural representations of labour
- Knowledge exchange and the creative economy
- Marginal modernisms
- Cultural theory and cultural studies
- Contemporary French writing (particularly the work of Hélène Cixous)
Recent and On-Going Research
I am involved in research on knowledge exchange and the creative economy, and on the relations between creative practices and social transformation. I have been the PI on two major AHRC-funded projects in this area: Creativeworks London and Social Change through Creativity and Culture (Brazil). I was PI on a new AHRC-funded project, Creative Hubs and Urban Development Goals (UK/Brazil) from October 2016-July 2017.
I continue to work on the ways in which the activity of labour shapes human subjectivity, which I explored in detail in my monograph, Modernism, Labour and Selfhood in British Literature and Culture, 1890-1930, exploring in particular how the theorisation of ‘immaterial labour’ may help in the understanding of the economic and affective position of the modernist writer.
I have a close interest in the changing character and nature of domestic interiors in the early twentieth century. I have published a number of articles and chapters looking at the history of domestic technologies, at the psychological meanings of ‘interiority’ and at the ways in which modernist writers inhabited and represented interior spaces. This has been part of a broader challenge to the paradigms that frame historical and theoretical accounts of ‘modernity’, which tend to focus overwhelmingly on the meanings of public space. I have collaborated with scholars in the UK and internationally to explore these questions.
My interest in ‘marginal modernism’ is also part of my broader commitment to developing a richer history of modernism. I have worked on writers who have remained surprisingly marginal within histories of modernism (such as Hugh McDiarmid or Lewis Grassic Gibbon); on writers whose relations to modernism form part of their intellectual and affective fabric rather than their stylistic preferences (such as Aldous Huxley or H. G. Wells) and on writers who persistently sought to find new imaginative forms of representation to engage with and to overcome marginality (such as Virginia Woolf, May Sinclair, or Dorothy Richardson).
Finally, I am working on the relations between the cultural project of modernism and a range of initiatives broadly associated with language reform. This interest began when I was studying the work and life of Sylvia Pankhurst, who dedicated a huge amount of time and effort to promulgating an international language. But it is now developing into a much broader exploration of issues such as spelling reform, the project of ‘Basic English’ and the work of a writer such as Laura Riding, who sought to identify the core of ‘rational meaning’ within language.
I was a member of the AHRC Peer Review College, and then a Strategic Reviewer, from 2004-2013.
”A new name and a new job, that’s what he’d like”: Identity, Labour and Precarity, 1915-2015’ in T. Toracca and A. Condello (eds), Law, Labour and the Humanities: Contemporary European Perspectives (London: Routledge, 2019), 299-313.
‘Work, Modernism, and Thinking Through the Aesthetic’, in J Attridge and H. Rydstrand (eds), Modernist Work: Labor, Aesthetics, and the Work of Art (London: Bloomsbury, 2019), 211-16.
‘Woolf’s atom, Eliot’s catalyst, and Richardson’s waves of light: science and modernism in 1919’ in Robert Bud, Frank James, Paul Greenhalgh and Morag Shiach (eds.) Being Modern: Interpreting science in early twentieth-century culture (UCL Press, 2018), 59-76.
‘Labour material and immaterial: A Modernist Perspective’, in Marcus Waithe and Claire White (eds.), The Labour of Literature in Britain and France, 1830-1930: Authorial Work Ethics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018) 292-309
(with Tarek Virani,) ‘Creative Economy in Perspective: Creativeworks London and Understanding Creative Hubs’, in Luiz Alberto de Farias, Valéria de Siqueira Castro Lopes and Cleusa Scroferneker (eds), Comunicação, Economia e Indústrias Criativas (Porto Alegre: ediPUCRS, May 2017), 91-111.
‘Co-edited with Tarek Virani, Cultural Policy, Innovation and the Creative Economy: Creative Collaborations in Arts and Humanities Research, (Palgrave Macmillan: 2017), 270 pp.
‘On or About December 1930: Gender and the Writing of Lives in Virginia Woolf’, in Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities, 22:1 (March 2017), 279-288. https://qmro.qmul.ac.uk/xmlui/handle/123456789/15052
‘Lewis Grassic Gibbon and Modernism: “What’s wrong with the other moderns is the lack of purpose in their infernal books”’, in Scott Lyall (ed.), Companion to Lewis Grassic Gibbon, (Glasgow: Association for Scottish Literary Studies, 2015), 9-21.
(with Jana Riedel and Jasmina Bolfek-Radovani), ‘Fusing and Creating: A comparative analysis of the knowledge exchange methodologies underpinning Creativeworks London’s Creative Vouchers and London Creative and Digital Fusion’s Collaborative Awards’, Creativeworks London Working Paper 21, http://www.creativeworkslondon.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Fusing-and-Creating1.pdf 2014.
‘Domestic Bloomsbury’ in Victoria Rosner (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Bloomsbury Group (Cambridge: CUP, 2014), 57-70.
“Pleasure too often Repeated”: Aldous Huxley's Modernity’, in The Modernist Party, ed. K. McLoughlin (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2013), pp. 210-26
‘London Rooms’, in Virginia Woolf’s Bloomsbury: Vol. 1, Aesthetic Theory and Literary Practice, ed. I. L. Shahriari and G. Vitelli (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), pp. 50-64
‘Periodising Modernism’, in A Handbook of Modernisms, ed. P. Brooker, A. Gasiorek, D. Parsons and A. Thacker (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), pp. 17-30
‘"To Purify the Dialect of the Tribe": Modernism and Language Reform’, Modernism/Modernity, 14 (2007), 21-34 doi:10.1353/mod.2007.0023
ed., Cambridge Companion to the Modernist Novel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007)
‘Modernism, The City and the 'Domestic Interior', Home Cultures, 2 (2005), 251-267 doi:10.2752/174063105778053300
‘Blaming Socrates: Modernism and the Historical Imagination’, Paragraph, 27 (2004), 69-112
‘Nation, Region, Place: Devolving Cultures’, in The Cambridge History of Twentieth-Century English Literature, ed. L. Marcus and P. Nicholls (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), pp. 528-44
Modernism, Labour and Selfhood in British Literature and Culture, 1890-1930 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004)
'“A Scot's Quair” and the times of labour’, Critical Survey, 15:2 (2003), 39-49 doi:10.3167/001115703782351754
‘Work and Selfhood in Lady Chatterley's Lover’, in The Cambridge Companion to D. H. Lawrence, ed. A. Fernihough (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), pp. 87-102
I would welcome enquiries from potential doctoral students interested in any of the areas of my research. I have extensive experience of supervising research students, and also of examining doctoral dissertations at a wide range of universities.
In the past I have supervised the following successful projects:
- Gargi Bhattacharyya, 'Multiculturalism and English Studies' (1993)
- Julia Blazdell, 'AIDS and the Borders of Postmodernity' (1994)
- Miriam Hastings, 'Representations of Desire and Identity in Contemporary Women’s Writing and Film' (1995)
- Yukiko Kinoshita, 'Art and Society: Mansfield and Wilde' (1997)
- Meg Jensen, 'Palmipsest: Influence and Indebtedness in modern writing', co-supervised with Suzanne Raitt (1997)
- Howard Finn, 'Romantic Subject / Modernist Object: Dorothy Richardson’s Pilgrimage and Modernist Individualism' (1999)
- Evlynn Sharp, 'Negotiating Past and Present: Spirituality and Identity in the Work of Some Nineteenth-Century Scottish Women Poets' (1999)
- Nathalie Handal, 'Arab Women Writers' (2000)
- Margaret Homberger, 'Wrongful Confinement and Victorian Psychiatry, 1840-80', co-supervised with Daniel Pick (2001)
- David Dwan, 'Cultural Nationalism and Mass Culture in Yeats’s Ireland' (2002)
- Basil Meyer, 'Consumptive Death in Victorian Literature, 1830-80', co-supervised with Daniel Pick (2002)
- Adam Trexler, 'Modernist Poetics and New Age Political Philosophy: AR Orage, Ezra Pound, and TS Eliot' (2006)
- James Lister, 'New Women and Degeneracy in the Late Nineteenth Century', co-supervised with Daniel Pick (2008)
- Suzanne Hobson, 'The Modernist Angel', co-supervised with Rachel Potter (2008)
- Catherine McNamarra, 'Constitution of Transgender Masculinities', co-supervised with Lois Weaver (2009)
- David Barnes, 'Urbs/Passion/Politics: Venice in Selected Works of Ruskin and Pound', co-supervised with Warren Boutcher (2009)
- Elizabeth Robertson, ‘Remember This? Family, History and the Nature of Historical Consciousness in Stephen Poliakoff’s Drama. 1974-2011’ (2014)
- Lawrence Foley, 'The Last Serious Thing: Modernist Responses to the Bullfight’ (2015).
- Rosie Langridge, ‘Modernism in the Post Office.’ Co-supervised with Sam Halliday (2016)
As Director of Creativeworks London, I worked with an exciting range of people from London’s universities, cultural institutions, and SMEs within the creative and cultural economy. CWL was funded from 2012-2016 by the AHRC and also by the European Regional Development Fund. More information about how this enabled research collaborations, support for doctoral students and early-career researchers to spend time working with creative SMEs, and for creative entrepreneurs to collaborate with London’s universities, as well as the many and varied impacts of this work, can be found here.
Network: QMUL Centre for the Creative Economy works with creative and cultural partners and with third sector organisations locally, nationally, and internationally to support research collaboration and a range of innovation opportunities. In 2018 Network undertook a consultancy project for Tower Hamlets on ‘Creative clusters, social inclusion, and sustainability: The case of Hackney Wick and Fish Island.